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Trump administration begins formal process to repeal WOTUS definition

petcharaPJ/ThinkstockPhotos Waterway through grassed area
WOTUS rule went into effect in 2015, but has been on hold since.

The Trump administration has begun the formal process of repealing the Waters of the United States definition established in 2015 and revising the definition.

The WOTUS rule, which went into effect in 2015 but was put on hold by a federal court, broadened the EPA’s regulatory authority over waterways to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.

Comments on the recodification of the pre-existing rule are due Aug. 28, 2017.

What does this rule do?

In this proposed rule, the agencies define the scope of “Waters of the United States” that are protected under the Clean Water Act.

In 2015, the agencies published the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of `Waters of the United States'” and on Oct. 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stayed the 2015 rule nationwide pending further action of the court.

The agencies propose to replace the stayed 2015 definition of “Waters of the United States” and re-codify the same regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 rule, which reflects the current legal regime under which the agencies are operating pursuant to the Sixth Circuit's Oct. 9, 2015 order.

If this proposed rule is finalized, the agencies would continue to implement those prior regulatory definitions, informed by applicable agency guidance documents and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice.

Where are comments submitted?

Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203, at Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from The agencies may publish any comment received to the public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. The agencies will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission. For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit

Do you want to talk to someone about the comment process?

Contact Donna Downing, Office of Water (4504-T), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 566-2428; email address: mailto:[email protected]; or Stacey Jensen, Regulatory Community of Practice (CECW-CO-R), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 441 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20314; telephone number: (202) 761-5903; email address: mailto:[email protected].


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